Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke


The Dolefull Lay of Clorinda       


AY me, to whom shall I my case complaine?
That may compassion my impatient griefe?
Or where shall I unfold my inward paine,
That my enriuen heart may find reliefe?
Shall I vnto the heauenly powres it show?                        5
Or unto earthly men that dwell below?

To heauens? ah they alas the authors were,
And workers of my vnremedied wo:
For they foresee what to vs happens here,
And they foresaw, yet suffred this be so.                        10 
       From them comes good, from them comes also il
       That which they made, who can them warne to spill.

To men? ah, they alas like wretched bee,
And subiect to the heauens ordinance:
Bound to abide what euer they decree,                          15
Their best redresse, is their best sufferance.
       How then can they like wretched comfort mee,
       The which no lesse, need comforted to bee?

Then to my selfe will I my sorrow mourne,
Sith none aliue like sorrowfull remaines:                         20
And to my selfe my plaints shall back retourne,
To pay their vsury with doubled paines.
       The woods, the hills, the riuers shall resound
       The mournfull accent of my sorrowes ground.

Woods, hills and riuers, now are desolate,                     25
Sith he is gone the which them all did grace:
And all the fields do waile their widow state,
Sith death their fairest flowre did late deface.
       The fairest flowre in field that euer grew,
       Was Astrophel:  that was, we all may rew.            30

What cruell hand of cursed foe vnknowne,
Hath cropt the stalke which bore so faire a flowre?
Vntimely cropt, before it well were growne,
And cleane defaced in vntimely howre.
       Great losse to all that ever him did see,                   35
       Great losse to all, but greatest losse to mee.

Breake now your gyrlonds, O ye shepheards lasses,
Sith the faire flowre, which them adornd, is gon:
The flowre, which them adornd, is gone to ashes,
Neuer againe let lasse put gyrlond on:                            40
       In stead of gyrlond, weare sad Cypres nowe,
       And bitter Elder, broken from the bowe.

Ne euer sing the loue-layes which he made,
Who euer made such layes of loue as hee?
Ne euer read the riddles, which he sayd                         45
Vnto your selues, to make you mery glee.
       Your mery glee is now laid all abed,
       Your mery maker now alasse is dead.

Death, the deuourer of all worlds delight,
Hath robbed you and reft from me my ioy:                     50
Both you and me, and all the world he quight
Hath robd of ioyance, and left sad annoy.
       Ioy of the world, and shepheards pride was hee,
       Shepheards hope neuer like againe to see.

Oh death that hast vs of such riches reft,                        55
Tell vs at least, what hast thou with it done?
What is become of him whose flowre here left
Is but the shadow of his likenesse gone.
       Scarse like the shadow of that which he was,
       Nought like, but that he like a shade did pas.          60

But that immortall spirit, which was deckt
With all the dowries of celestiall grace:
By soueraine choyce from th'hevenly quires select,
And lineally deriu'd from Angels race,
       O what is now of it become aread,                         65
       Ay me, can so diuine a thing be dead?

Ah no:  it is not dead, ne can it die,
But liues for aie, in blisfull Paradisse:
Where like a new-borne babe it soft doth lie,
In beds of lillies wrapt in tender wise.                             70
       And compast all about with roses sweet,
       And daintie violets from head to feet.

There thousand birds all of celestiall brood,
To him do sweetly caroll day and night:
And with straunge notes, of him well vnderstood,           75
Lull him asleepe in Angel-like delight:
       Whilest in sweet dreame to him presented bee
       Immortall beauties, which no eye may see.

But he them sees and takes exceeding pleasure
Of their diuine aspects, appearing plaine,                       80
And kindling loue in him aboue all measure,
Sweet loue still ioyous, never feeling paine.
       For what so goodly forme he there doth see,
       He may enioy from iealous rancor free.

There liueth he in euerlasting blis,                                   85
Sweet spirit neuer fearing more to die:
Ne dreading harme from any foes of his,
Ne fearing saluage beasts more crueltie.
       Whilest we here wretches waile his priuate lack,
       And with vain vowes do often call him back.           90

But liue thou there still happie, happie spirit,
And giue vs leaue thee here thus to lament:
Not thee that doest thy heauens ioy inherit,
But our owne selues that here in dole are drent.
       Thus do we weep and waile, and wear our eies,     95
       Mourning in others, our owne miseries.

[AJ Note: An elegy on the death of her brother, Sir Philip Sidney,
who died at the battle of Zutphen.]

Pembroke, Mary S. H.  The Triumph of Death and Other
Unpublished and Uncollected Poems.  G. F. Waller, Ed.
Salzburg: Universität Salzburg, 1977.  176-179.

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